Sting produced the Brand New Day album with Kipper, a film composer he met while working on the title song for the 1998 film The Mighty, starring Sharon Stone. Based on Rodman Philbrick's young adult novel Freak the Mighty, it's about two kids with physical and mental challenges who come together as the title hero. Sting and Kipper worked so well together that Sting invited him to his house in Italy to work for what was supposed to be a few days.
Sting noted in Lyrics By Sting: "It went well - so well, in fact, that Kipper ended
up staying for the next two albums, and together we became a kind of musical Freak the Mighty."
With this song, Sting offers an antidote to the "premillennial hokum" of doomsday prophecies and the Y2K scare. "Who but the most cynical of us would want to be right about the end of the world?" he wrote in Lyrics By Sting. "No, I think we make the world every day. Collectively, individually, by intention or accident, we dream our world into being. We just have to be careful what we dream."
Stevie Wonder played harmonica on this track, and is there a better way to inject happiness into a song than adding a dose of Stevie Wonder? Sting doesn't think so: "As a song, 'Brand New Day' captured the spirit of optimism that is so important to me, and if you can think of a more hopeful manifestation of joy than Stevie Wonder's harmonica, then be my guest."
The music video, directed by Jan Houllevigue, starts out with a religious vibe as Sting appears hovering over a body of water to preach to rapt onlookers. By the end, it turns out he's not selling salvation... but laundry soap! He explained to El Pais: "Some seem to feel that they are a kind of god and reveal in their songs the way to fix the world. I made a parody of this and in the end it turns that what I'm selling is a detergent. It's just a joke, nothing polemical, I believe."
This song was referenced on Family Guy in the 2009 episode "We Love You, Conrad." After Peter Griffin claims Sting's songs are almost completely unintelligible, we see the singer perform this in concert, mumbling all but the last three words.
The song was also used on the TV show Hellcats in the 2010 episode "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother."
Sting performed this at Rockefeller Center to ring in the new year - and the new millennium.
Sting typically writes the music and lyrics in the same period, but he took a new approach with the Brand New Day album. He said in a press release: "I composed, finessed and even sequenced the music before I'd even written a word. I had to trust that the music would tell me stories, begin to create characters. It's a much more mystical process. You have to be more patient. It's a little like sculpting a piece of wood - you begin to see faces in the wood."